Hilton Splits With Citi, Goes Exclusive With AmEx

Claire Tsosie
By Claire Tsosie 
Edited by Kenley Young

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UPDATE November 2, 2017: Citi has released more details about how Citi Hilton credit cards will be transferred to AmEx Hilton credit cards. The switch will take place automatically in January 2018 for all eligible cards and will require no action from cardholders, according to Citi. Starting on January 30, 2018, cardholders will be able to start using their new AmEx Hilton credit cards to make purchases. Read Citi’s FAQ for more information about the switch.

American Express has also announced it was launching two new Hilton credit cards and improving benefits on two existing ones. Read NerdWallet’s report on the new offers.

UPDATE June 6, 2017: Citi no longer lists Hilton-branded credit cards on its website.

AmEx and Hilton sittin’ in a tree, C-O-B-R-A-N-D.

Hilton has announced that American Express will be the exclusive issuer for Hilton Honors co-branded credit cards in the U.S., starting Jan. 1. The news comes on the heels of a comprehensive bidding process for the partnership, according to a press release from Hilton. This is big news, as the hotel giant has offered co-branded cards through two issuers — both Citi and American Express — for the past 17 years.

Here’s what that means for you:

For would-be Citi Hilton cardholders: Offers will soon disappear. Citi Hilton cards — including the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Reserve Card and the Citi® Hilton HHonors™ Visa Signature® Card — were still taking applications as of this writing through Citi, but they’re likely not going to stay around for much longer. Citi’s partnership with Hilton expires on Dec. 31.

For existing Citi Hilton cardholders: Change is coming. When AmEx becomes the exclusive issuer of Hilton cards, existing Citi Hilton cards in good standing will be moved to a new card account, according to Citi. Citi will contact you about the details of the changes before the end of the year. You can continue to use your card and earn Hilton points until a replacement card is sent, Citi notes. For more information, check Citi’s FAQ on the transition.

For existing and future AmEx Hilton cardholders: Benefits may soon improve. Those who carry AmEx Hilton cards may see improved features. “We’re not announcing any new benefits today, but Hilton members can look forward to some new cardholder benefits with American Express” in the future, says Leah Gerstner, spokesperson for American Express.

Hilton’s announcement is good news for AmEx, which has lost several major partnerships — including Costco, which switched to Citi in 2016 — and has been laser-focused on preserving its other relationships. But for Citi, it’s not a major loss. According to a Bloomberg report, Hilton cards represent only about 1% of Citi’s U.S. card portfolio, and the issuer said the partnership didn’t make economic sense.

Hilton is American Express’ earliest co-brand partnership. Hilton partnered with AmEx in 1995, and Citi in 2000.

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